Formal Letter Vocabulary

It is important to understand what formal letter vocabulary you need to use in a formal letter. Once you are clear on the basic information on how to write a formal letter and how to write a formal email, you should read over your work and look more specifically at certain details like how to open and how to close your formal letter.

Many people have doubts on what they should say to start and end a letter so the following advice will be useful when you are writing your formal letter or formal email. Remember who your audience is and the reason you are writing in order to choose the most appropriate option. Also take a look at some formal letter rules if you are stuck.

Formal Letter Wording

Formal Letter Opening

These are some suggestions on how to begin your formal letter or email:

  • To Whom It May Concern: only used when there is no way of knowing where the letter will go, try your best to find a name somehow
  • Dear Sir/Madam: used when you do not have a name and do not know the gender, always try and find a name
  • Dear (plus name): most common and appropriate, use only the first name if you know someone well, use only the last name to be polite, use the full name to be most formal
  • Hi/Hello: extremely informal and should be avoided, never used alone always with a first or last name, more common in emails
  • Ms, Miss or Mrs: Miss (known single female), Mrs (known married female), Ms (appropriate for both, use if unsure)

Formal Letter Ending

These are some suggestions on how to close your formal letter or email:

  • Yours faithfully: when you do not know the person
  • Yours sincerely: most common, formal, polite, when you know who is receiving the letter or email
  • Thank you: common when you are requesting something, if you have complained or apologising with hopes of forgiveness
  • Best regards: polite, less formal, when you know a person
  • Yours: least common, usually followed by more, if the letter is very basic and simple

Have a look at our formal letter samples to get a better insight.


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